I blogged everyday for a month. Thirty-one days of pouring over God’s word and pouring out my heart on this screen. And then nothing.
I have been stuck.
There are many reasons. I got really sick and could barely make it through the day and just couldn’t bring myself to do anything but go to sleep when the kids went to bed at night.
My focus then started to shift back to all the other things around me that need to get done. My quiet time with the Lord gradually became less and less and I literally found myself with nothing to say. Just 30 days ago I could barely keep up with all the things that were on my heart to share. All of the things that He was sharing with me. And then nothing.
Well, not nothing. One thing. There has been one thing that has been on my heart to share. Every time I ask Him what I should write about next, I keep coming back to this one thing.
This one idea.
But I haven’t done it because I have been scared. Scared that people will think that I am crazy. Scared that you will think that I am being self-righteous or “preachy”.
And my heart jumped out of my chest. Yes, God! This is what you told me. This is what you have been working in my heart. The thing that you asked me to share, but I have been to afraid to do so. Lord, forgive me.
So, here it is . . .
Every year, I take great pleasure in making a list of things that I want to get for Christmas. I love to browse websites and flip through catalogs looking for that perfect item that is going to make my Christmas special.
This year was different, though. God has been opening my eyes to the fact that I have many wants and not very many needs. Compared with so many of His children who live in such poverty, I live like a queen.
How can I ask for one more book that I don’t have time to read? More clothing when my closets are over-flowing? More yarn or fabric when I have more than I will ever be able to use in my entire lifetime? One more gadget that will be obsolete in a year?
The answer was that I couldn’t.
And so, instead of making a long list of things that I don’t really need, I asked my family for gifts from either the Compassion or World Vision gifts catalogue.
So instead of getting that scarf or another collectible that will sit on my shelf and gather dust, this year I will be getting chickens, goats and malaria nets. Well, I won’t be getting them, but people who are living in the most poverty stricken places in the world will.
They will be receiving gifts that will not just provide them with joy for the moment, but instead will help to sustain their families for years to come.
Would you prayerfully consider doing the same? Can I be so bold as to dare you to live out Christmas differently this year?
There. I did it. I shared what I have been scared to share. And I have learned a powerful lesson about being obedient.
My words are not as eloquent as Ann's, but they come from what God has been working in my heart. And it seems that I am not the only one. God is moving hearts all over the world to live a radically giving, radically different life for Him.
We have come to the end of our thirty-one day journey. When I decided to take on this challenge at the beginning of the month, I had no idea how difficult it was going to be. I have grown in many ways and at times was stretched to the very limits of my abilities.
God taught me many things this month. I learned about priorities and time management. I learned that I write much better late at night, than early in the morning and that it is near impossible to get anything done while my children are awake.
Most importantly, God taught me about Himself. His amazing and enduring character has become new to me and my faith has grown stronger. As I looked back through my life for stories to write about, I could see how the different attributes of God were at work at different times. What an amazing gift that has been.
I hope you have gotten as much out of this journey as I have. I pray that you have a better understanding of the nature of Yahweh, our Lord. That what I have written has created a desire in you to draw closer to Elohim, Our Creator.
There is no way that we could learn everything there is to know about God in thirty-one days. I encourage you to continue to press into Him and to study His unfathomable nature.
As a thank you for spending the month with me, I have created a free printable of the different names of God we have studied. It should print out as an 8x10. If you have problems with it, please let me know. Click here to get the full sized image Names of God Subway Art
I would love to hear from you, as well. What has God taught you this month? Was there one attribute that meant more to you than the rest? Feel free to share in the comments section below.
Well, it has happened again. I knew it would only be a matter of time before I stumbled upon another obsession. Something else that has the potential to become an idol in my life.
This time the culprit is bread. Yes, that is right. Bread.
A few weeks ago, I was at a home school event with my children. We met a wonderful family and ended up spending the whole day together. At lunch time, she pulled out this amazing looking loaf of bread that was obviously homemade. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich she gave me was the best that I have ever had. Why? The bread. It was amazing and I keep thinking about it.
After further inquiry, I learned that not only did she bake the bread, but she ground the flour herself, as well. So I have been spending lots of time researching bread and wheat and flour and the nutritional benefits of grinding it yourself.
I see a grain mill coming into this house in the very near future. And several 50 lb bags of grain. Can I just mention how thankful I am that my husband just kinda goes along with my endeavor of the moment?
So what does all of this have to do with God? Well, everything. Bread was a primary staple in the ancient world. It was made from a variety of grains and provided the needed nourishment to sustain life in a difficult environment.
It was so important, that it also figured into various aspects of worship. The bread of the Presence, consisting of twelve loaves of unleavened bread, symbolized the covenant between God and his people. Displayed in the temple sanctuary, it served as a constant reminder to the priests and the people that it was God who sustained His people.
When the Israelites were wandering in the desert for forty years, God rained down manna from heaven every morning. He provided just what they needed for that day. No more, no less.
God provides for us much in the same way today. He gives us what we need to get through each day, each moment. He will be faithful to keep his promise to sustain us both physically and spiritually.
Yeshua, or Jesus, told his disciples that He was the bread of life. He said that he was the living bread who came down from heaven and that whoever eats from it will live forever.
"I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert and died. This is the bread that comes from heaven so that whoever eats it won't die. I am the living bread that came from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. The bread I will give to bring life to the world is my flesh." John 6:48-51
Several years ago I tried the popular Atkins diet. Yes, I lost weight, but at a very high cost. I was tired, cranky and had absolutely no energy to get through my day.
When I look back at the times in my life where I have neglected spending time with Jesus, a sort of spiritual Atkins, the outcome was very much the same. My soul felt empty and I lacked the motivation to fulfill the tasks that God has required of me.
Lord, please help us remember that just as we need carbohydrates to feed our physical bodies, we also need The Bread of Life, Jesus, to nourish our spiritual bodies.
What an awesome day it has been. After teaching a class this morning, my family and I drove out to Madison, VA to visit an adorable country market a friend told us about. Right now it is cold and raining outside, but inside there is a meatloaf cooking, two loaves of bread rising and an apple pie waiting to go in the oven. I love autumn!
Here is our reflection for today . . .
Your husband is your Maker. His name is Yahweh Tsebaoth. Isaiah 62:5.
Lord, you call yourself Ish, Husband to your people. I am amazed that you use this intimate image to characterize your relationship with us. Help us, Lord, through the power of your Spirit to be a loving and faithful wife to you. (Ann Spangler, Names of God Study Bible)
With perfect peace you will protect those whose minds cannot be changed, because they trust you. Isaiah 26:3
I know the plans I have for you, declares Yahweh. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Miqweh Yisrael, Hope of Israel. This name for God is the one that moves me the most. To me it encompasses all the other character traits into one.
God is our hope. Because of Him we can hope for a better future. We can hope for healing. We can hope that things will all work out for good, even when circumstances say that they shouldn’t.
Because of Miqweh Yisrael, we can look forward to the light of morning, even in the darkest of nights.
And most importantly, we have the hope for a life beyond this one - one with no sin, sickness or crying.
At the beginning of this year, I found myself in a place where I was having a crisis of faith. Doubts as to whether or not my faith was just another man made fable ran around in my head.
During that time, I experienced some of the most empty, hopeless moments of my life.
Without God, without our hope, what is the point of it all? Without the hope of something better on the other side, why endure all the hardship and pain that comes from being alive?
Since I am a facts person, I sought answers in the book The Case for Christ. A book written by a former atheist journalist who was looking to prove Christianity wrong. In the process he became convinced that God was real and that Jesus was crucified and resurrected.
I too became convinced that what I had believed all my life was more than just a fairy story, but instead cold hard fact. And my hope returned.
I look back at that time and realize that the hopelessness that I felt is what so many people feel on a daily basis. I cannot imagine living with that blackness in my heart everyday.
Because of that, it is my desire to share the gift of hope that I have been given with as many people as possible.
I pray that maybe something you have read here has encouraged you to do the same.
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall always stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious, and does not cease to bear fruit.
O hope of Israel! O Lord!
Jeremiah 17:7-8, 13